Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Multi-Fronted Bluster Campaign - Evolution, Global Warming, And Political Candidates Like Mike Huckabee

There are still things I have read and written about Christopher Hitchens’ “god Is Not Great…,” and somewhat relatedly, scientists generally and the philosophy of naturalism. Briefly, philosophical naturalism makes metaphysical assertions about all of reality while what we could call, “scientific naturalism” is analytically true or “true by definition”: the definition of science is the study of nature. Conversely, all metaphysical claims, natural or otherwise, are metaphysical and beyond the ken of science. No, metaphysical statements about nature are not strictly incongruous. Most simply, “All of reality is natural” is a metaphysical assertion. It is no more scientifically verifiable or falsifiable than how you are feeling, today. Theoretically speaking, a test might determine that the neurons in your brain are firing at a relatively high or low level, and even in what area of the brain such firings are most concentrated. But, it cannot read your thoughts or feelings.

I am not a Cartesian dualist: I don’t tend to think that in this world, matter and spirit are separate. Rather, I believe that they are intimately linked, probably to the extent that physical and spiritual events are coincident: a unified creation. They are distinguished more by perspective and definition than they are by time and place. So actually worse than coincident, the affirmation in the realms of physics and metaphysics are categorically exclusive, literally by definition! But anyway, I am not satisfied yet, with my preparation for these discussions.

So, all that is to say that more pressing, today, is the matter of the misplacement of confessional coercion in media clamor, or as I have called it, “bluster”: that being intimidation by volume, rather than substance. I have for many years contested the emptiness of assertion that evolution is the explanation for all of life, is “fact.” First of all, my reading on the matter is becoming dated by 5 or 10 years, and that question is part of what I’m studying now on naturalism and contemporary scientists. But, whatever your final conclusion on the matter, the immediate point is that the shallow mocking about being “anti-scientific,” “Neanderthal,” ignorant,” or sometimes just “stupid,” is itself ignorant and ill-informed, and most commonly proceeds from people who are demonstrably unequipped not only to make such charges but to make much of any comment on the matter. Most recently, there was great media, blog, and YouTube vacuous scorn about candidates in a Republican debate who simply expressed a disbelief in evolution. Of course, peple have every right to say whatever they want, but we also have every right to say that such speech should be at best, lightly regarded: certainly not intellectually imposing.

A more present example of the noise-over-thought phenomenon (we now have de facto broadcast brawn over brains), is the proclamation so crystallized in Al Gore and his silly film, that anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming is a manifest and looming threat and that it is urgent for survival that government impose drastic constraints on emissions of CO2, mostly from the utilization of fossil fuels. And, it is boosted by the claim that all reputable scientists are agreed and there is no real debate about the threat. As with ardent proponents of evolution, the designation of who is reputable appears to be primarily exclusive to those who will register some agreement with the claims. Disagree? Obviously, not “reputable.”

Talk show hosts like Glenn Beck, Dennis Prager, and Michael Medved have often highlighted the emptiness behind the claims of these global warming Chicken Littles There is plenty of information on the web available on both sides. There are questions about specific claims of Gore’s “docu-ganda” film available even from government agencies. A year old article by the NATIONAL CENTER FOR POLICY ANALYSIS is at: . There are very extensive text and video analyses available on the web. But, acolytes of the “pop” (popular but shallow) account of the global warming threat, call Prager and Medved, certain that they are apologists on the payroll of large corporations, most ominously, the dreaded “big oil” companies. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. hectored Glenn Beck, who had an accomplished climatologist on his program questioning anthropogenic global warming to “get some real scientists” on his program: that is, scientists who agree with Kennedy.

Now, honestly, though I hardly see him as an intellectual giant, it’s pretty hard for me to believe that Al Gore is as silly as the invulnerability and professed unchallenged state of the available data suggests, and that his claims are genuine more than political. But still, I’m obviously in an inadequate position to pass judgment on Al Gore. But, I suspect that Robert F. Kennedy believes what he’s saying about the danger and the scientific consensus. And, I know that these talk show callers, like the bloggers and blogflies, are serious. But regardless, my conclusion is that they are at best mistaken in their conclusions. A lot of people are mistaken, regardless of who is correct. Most every assertion has dissenters. I would suggest that you diligently study the matter and reach your own conclusion. But, the point here is that regurgitating “pop” myth is not due diligence. Diligent study reveals that plenty of, some say most, well-established scientists are skeptical or critical of the idea of anthropogenic global warming, Wisconsin University Professor Emeritus, Reid Bryson, who called anthropogenic global warming “hooey.” Bryson has been called, “the father of modern climatology.” Many disagree with him, even at his own university.

Scientists and professors disagree about anthropogenic global warming, and about as there is disagreementabout evolution, just as there is disagreement in most disciplines. For myself, I would point out that in both cases, there is great professional incentive to side with consensus. Grants, projects, and positions are largely awarded in accordance with popular orthodoxy. No one disputes that the world has warmed (slightly: .7 degrees C. in the past century) nor can they dispute that global climate has always changed, long before carbon dioxide was generated from more than exhaling. And, few dispute that we ought to maintain the environment, or that fossil fuels pollute it, but that says nothing about anthropogenic global warming. Mike Huckabee advocates targeting energy independence within a decade, which is desirable from not just an environmental but also economic and security perspectives. I’m all for that and can’t see why anyone would oppose it. But, the point here is that popularity, largely generated by relatively ignorant forces in media, is no legitimate case for undisputed factuality.

But speaking of Mike Huckabee, this discussion can circle back to what has largely been the focus of this blog: the election of suitable candidates for political office: specifically, electing a President Mike Huckabee. This same process of media-driven popularity unfailingly tells us (claiming to report) who are the “frontrunners” and viable candidates, particularly for president. We should ask ourselves how it is that the Republican “frontrunners” in polls and fundraising are those who also are in one way or another unsatisfactory to the party base? Why are the undecided so numerous and why is the true poll leader, “None Of The Above?” In quite the same way as I have been discussing, recognition and celebrity are the consequence of media reporting and focus. Media focus produces the polls and funds that are reported to be the justification for reports about who “has a chance.” And similarly, by far most of the public passively digest what is spoon-fed to it by persons that they often ostensibly disagree with. So that, now you have the most noted and even strident conservative “experts” deliberating over which of the “favorites” they might be forced to support, even while they confess that they would prefer one of the other declared candidates. But, it is Republican activists, not the reporters of the “frontrunners, who will actually do the selecting. And, not a single vote has even been cast! Do you see the circle? Accepting what they are told, rather than choosing what they believe, is the public’s problem. Believing the reports of who “has a chance,” is a self-fulfilling process. Just as believing claims about “scientific fact” defines what is popular “fact,” the process of believing who are the “frontrunners,” makes them the frontrunners.

I played in this process for many years. But, I will play in it no more. The sooner that people stop believing it, the sooner it will no longer be true. Mike Huckabee is the true conservative that conservatives supposedly lament the lack of. And he is in the contest! In fact, most all of the other 5 candidates also represent that better than the media-anointed four, which is no coincidence. In 2000, of 14 who began the process, it eventually came down to the two most ambiguous conservatives, Bush and McCain. Why can’t people select the candidate they like? The fact is that they can. The problem is only if they are fooled and won’t. And for me more importantly, though I sometimes approach questions differently, Huckabee represents the character of honesty and sincerity that the nation needs. Compassionate conservatism is not a campaign slogan, but describes the commission of his life. He was a Christian pastor for over a decade who carries that same commission to politics that he did to pasturing. Loving and caring is not just a tactic, it is the duty of his faith that he takes to every task.

To me, polls or money have no force to compare with that. But Iowa is the site of the first high profile straw poll of the campaign,10 days from now. And Iowa Republicans are dominantly Christian conservatives. Polls and money aside, Huckabee should be the favorite. He has focused on campaigning in Iowa for over a month, and I believe, I would predict, that he will surprise the odds-makers. It is odd to make odds on a voluntary vote as though it were a gamble rather than a choice. Voters should act like responsible citizens rather than passive dice. Iowa is also the site of the first actual delegate selection in January. So, be bold enough to vote your conscience and if you can, go to the campaign web site

and make a contribution to encourage others who might not be so bold.

The campaign site and the Internet in general, have all the information the public needs in every form: text, audio or video. I believe the Internet is breaking down the delusion of “pop” perception in all modes of thought. Perhaps some fortitude in an American election can encourage assertiveness in other areas?


Stephen R. Maloney said...

Much of what you write in your piece is sensible and well-thought-out, especially the material regarding anthropogenic global warming. Right now, I'm "agnostic" on whether humans play a major role in global warming, although I continue to try to learn more about the subject. Mike Huckabee said that that conservatives need to pay a lot more attention to protecting the environment. The fact that some (or many) liberals advocate a position doesn't necessarily disqualify it as ipso facto false. For example, as I point out on my own blog (the past two days), there's a critical need for campaign finance reform that would allow lesser-known candidates (like Mike) become better-known and have greater opportunities to win elections. Too many conservatives believe that campaign finance reform is a left-wing plot to silence the right-wing, and that's ridiculous. When you say that Bush -- a big winner in his races to become governor of a very conservative state, Texas --is somehow not a conservative is little more than name-calling. John McCain, an authentic American hero, is a "maverick conservative," that is, someone who doesn't who doesn't always toe the rightist line, so he gets pummeled by doctrinaire conservatives. In order to be a conservative, someone has not have to adhere strictly to the views of Larry P. Bush and McCain advocate the appointing of strict constructionist judges (Roberts, Alito). They are both ardently pro-life, even when it exacts a political cost to be so. They're completely committed to defending this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. They're both committed to Christian behavior when it comes to immigration. For these position they sometimes get excoriated by political absolutists, and that is ultimately destructive of the Republican Party and of conservatism. There is no "conspiracy" against conservative candidates. As I've pointed out, Ronald Reagan himself would be denounced by some contemporary conservatives. He was twice-married! He had gay friends! He was pro-choice most of his life! He was a union-member! He ran massive deficits! He appointed Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court! Surely, he must have been a RINO. In other words, if you held Reagan to the same standards you use for GWB and McCain, he wouldn't qualify as a conservative. One reason Giuliani is far ahead in the polls (far enough that Fred Thompson is having second thoughts) is that he's a national hero. He showed great grace under pressure, Hemignway's definition of courage, during the Agony of New York (and America) on and after 9/11. Most Americans, even a few liberals, believe that if we don't win the WOT, all our other favorite issues basically crumble to dust. The 2,996 people who died on 9/11 can no longer weight in global warming, or gun rights, or the right-to-life. I do agree with you that it's necessary for the Republican Party to highlight candidates who can appeal to Americans generally, including Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Tim Pawlenty (featured, sadly, today in the Minn. bridge collapse). However, people who say that if Mike doesn't win the nomination they will take their ball and go home are advocating a position that Mike himself would abhor. In politics, as in life, we take the best we can get. Otherwise, "he who sows the wind reaps the whirlwind." It may take 10 years (at least) to rebuild and reconstitute the Republican Party on a sustainable basis. However, "it is better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness." It's time for people to stop complaining and start lighting candles.


Larry Perrault said...

Yes. On Huckabee's campaign blog, there are currently links to an interview in which Huckabee stresses that conservatives should be at the forefront of environmental stewardship, and they are not. He has frequently said this, and I agree. He also talks about irresponsible thieving corporate officers, while stressing that he is a capitalist and is not advocating government regulation. He's just "calling sin, sin" he's correct in doing that and making it plain that in being silent, conservatives reinforce the perception by many that they don't care. I have stressed points like this for a long time, and the fact that Huckabee addresses them is one big reason that I support him. Huckabee also went to deliverr speeches to places like the NEA and The Urban L:eague, which other Republicans did and often do fail to do. Again, this reinforces suspicions about Republicans. I'm all with Huckabee.

I have been having conversation on another Huckabee suporter's blog about the ambiguous conservatism of G.W. Bush. I'm not angry at him and I think, not unpredictably, the media and the left have treated him unfairly. Part of what is very ironic is that the paint him as "a radical to of the extreme right wing." Oh, REALL? Perhaps you can't blame a lot of them, because they simply don't understand what conservatism is.

In 2000, William F. Buckley was interviewed and asked if he thought Bush was a real conservative. Buckley said, "He LISTS conservatively." I agree. He does list conservatively, like the West Texas Republican that he is. This population used to be Democratic before the Democratic Party ran off the left side of the road. I suppose as a country club child of privilege, he comes from genteel Republican gentleman-stock and never had ocassion to construct a lucid conservative perspective. I'm not trying to smear Bush. I'm just loking at the facts. He isn't a heretic, going against what he knows. He doesn't appear to know any different.

The fact is, I have always considered my conservatism to be a systematic philosophy, and that causes ME to come into conflict with many popular "conservative" causes. One example is my approach to the immigration question, as I mentioned in an email to you, that leaves many Republicans scratching their heads. There are a lot of other examples: I'm unequivocally and ardently pro-life, but I don't support an amendment to the US Constitution, for example. First, I think it's a fantasy, and secondly, I think it's entirely impracticable and not the place of the US Constitution, beyond reaffirming the American right-to-life, as abolition reaffirmed the American right to liberty.

There are often places where I diverge from the consensus "conservative agenda. Were it not for my concern about security and humanitarianism regarding foreign policy, my belief system would look a lot like Ron Paul's.

My point is similar relative top McCain: I would never discount his service record. I don't question him as a man. I see no intellectual compass, but only sentimental reactions.

The average Democratic voter has genuine concerns and god intentions, I just think that Democratic politicians have faulty solutions for those concerns. There may be a correct diagnsis of a concern, but it's usually a flawed prescription. I do have to admit though, that experience makes me skeptical when they join en masse, to trump up an issues.

By the way, I personally don't matter, but right and wrong matter, and I should look at what others say, but after doing so, my sense about that is what I have to judge.

I don't question either Bush or McCain's faithfulness about defending the country. God know, Bush has been pummeled and has had every opportunity to cave in, but he hasn't. I don't discredit his heart. And I don't think he's stupid, like he's accused of being. I just think he isn't philosophicaly clear.

Reagan was not a philosophical conservative. He voted for FDR FOUR TIMES! But, he came to see that runaway liberal government was tearing up the country he loved. As I've said, he wasn't an extraordinary navigator, but he was an extraordinary captain, and his ship had a rudder a mile deep. I hate to see divorce, because I think it hurts lives. But, I'm a member of a Baptist church and I told THEM that they shouldn't rule out a staff applicant, simply because he's divorced.

What I always point out about Reagan is that he ordered the air traffic controllers back to work, at risk of their jobs. They called his bluff, and he fired them. At Reykjavik, when Gorbachev held up the peace treaty signing demanding and end to SDI, Reagan said, "Nyet" and walked away, and the Russians had to come back. In Berlin, even his own staff kept trying to scratch the challenge from his speech. With it deleted from the text, Reagan put it back in: "Mr. Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL! In my lifetime, we haven't had a president before or since who had the resolve to do things like that.

I think it's important to be resolved on the WOT, but I don't think Rudy Giulian is the only one who believes that. In fact, Ron Paul may be the only Republican candidate who doesn't.

If Republicans nominate Giuliani, they have burned much of the Republican platform. Good luck putting it back together. The right to life, the right to bear arms, and other things are now optional. Webasically will have two Democratic parties. I'm telling the Republicans that they can't burn the platform and take (small "r" rebublicans for granted. I've been to state conventions. I'bve been inside the belly of the beast. I know that voting or not voting for them is the ONLY language that these unprincipled politicians understand. "I don't like, but I'l vote for you, anyway..." "Thank you very much. That's the only thing I give a squat about."

I'm not finished reading about Sarah Palin...


Stephen R. Maloney said...

Even though the Democratic "base" -- or a good chunk of it -- is deluded about certain matters (such as GWB's supposed "complicity" in 9/11), the Democrats tend to be more realistic about politics than Republicans. Apparently, nine-out-of-10 Democrats are "satisfied" with their choices for President, all of whom are staunch liberals. The major Republican candidates for President -- Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Thompson, and Huckabee -- are all conservative, some more than others. A mayor of New York (or a Governor of Minnesota, or a Governor of Alaska) are not going to be conservative in the same way as, say, a governor of Georgia or North Carolina). Mike Huckabee has been criticized for supporting road-building in Arkansas, which desperatedly needed roads. Sarah Palin has been criticized for following the direction of the Alaska Supreme Court and providing same-sex benefits for gay state employees.) If politicians don't get elected -- and Reagan knew this -- their "principles" tend to be little more than academic exercises. One other Republican woman I hope you and your visitors will look into is Heather Wilson, a congresswoman from the Albuquerque area. She's a graduate of the Air Force Academy, the first female veteran ever elected to Congress. The district she represents is 43% Hispanic and "tends" Democratic. Every two years, the Democrats pour money into the district in attempts to defeat Heather. She is very pro-life and against amnesty (in the dictionary sense of the word). The candidate running against her is ALWAYS a liberal Hispanic. The Club for Growth people would not support Heather because she's not quite "conservative" enough for them. However, if Heather ran as a female version of Tom Tancredo or Ron Paul, she would be soundly defeated, and the district would probably be in the hands of the Democrats until you and I reached the age of 110.
When we ask if a federal official is conservative, we also need to ask, "Compared to what? (or whom)?" Note: The Wikipedia article on Heather is an exercise in liberal bias, although most of the isolated "facts" are correct. She is a remarkable woman and would be a better President than most of the people who've held that office. As time goes on, more and more candidates are going to face the situation Heather does, with a heavy Hispanic component in their districts. They cannot win those districts if they start sounding like Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. (who's one of my heroes). I could say a lot more about Rudy Giuliani (also one of my heroes), but you get the drift of my argument. A governor (or mayor) doesn't really get to choose the place where he governs. In the context of New York, Giuliani was very conservative. I'm going to use this as a column for today's blog contribution and, if you want, I'll print your reply.

steve maloney

Larry Perrault said...

I think one reason the Democrats, most specifically their base, are "satisfied" is that their craven candidates are groveling after anything they have to say to get their attention It looks pretty darn pathetic, to me. Almost from top to bottom, candidates are saying things that I don't think they necerssarily believe and wouldn't (probably couldn't) follow through on, as president. They are posturing for a morsel of attention from their base and the press.

I'll say this for John McCain: Though I think he has dithered some on a few things (perhaps where it isn't a huge defiance of his conscience), on the things that he feels strongly about, he's been firm and taken the flack. I respect that. But, my respect doesn't qualify someone to be president.

And, speaking of that, maybe before I respond, I'll ask you to clarify your enclosure of "principles" in quotations. It looks like you are using the term almost intechangeably with "opinions." Yes, everyone has opinions. But unfortunately, not everyone has principles. Principles are not relative feelings. When I claim "principles" I'm talking about what I recognize as reality, not just my subjective and relative feelings.

You may have seen that The Club For Growth has busted Huckabee's chops, too. Besides roads (which tax increase was approved by 80% of the public), the also increased education spending in response to a court order, and moved the state rating from near the bottom t near the middle, in the upper half. The Club For Growth gave him a bad report, months ago, it seemed because they had a very coarse standard about overall budget growth and ANY tax increases at all, failing to distinguish the province of state and federal government and the context f governor vs. state responsibilities. But this week, they ran an ad against him in Iowa, which made me suspect that they were somehow vested in another candidate.

To me, "conservatism" is not about any liberal perceptions or a matter of "how much." It's more like an on/off switch: either you understand or you don't. For example, understanding conservatism in these terms has very little to do with the shallow whether a state governor ever signed a tax increase.

William F. Buckley or Alan Keyes (for example, whom I loved) tend to talk past people, or over their heads. True conservatism has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. But, a confident and compassionate conservative speaks aboutthe virtues of the truth to and for EVERYONE!

Thank you, and yes you may post the response. And, let me say that you are not at all alone and I am, by now, very used to nearly everyone (especially the politically experienced) disagreeing with me. I think that's the strongest thing keeping America from escaping the cultural ditch that we are in. Ill return your email and ask you to return your blog address.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

I mentioned in my blog how Cong. Heather Wilson "sold" the death penalty as appropriate. She did it in one-sentence. We might all believe that people "should" pay more attention to issues, including those that can't be summed up in one-sentence. However, attention spans are short, and that's just a reality we conservatives need to recognize. We don't need to make false statements, but we need to make simple, compelling ones. Reagan was very good at that. In Britain, because of Maggie Thatcher's persistence, Britain's "unfunded liabilities" are about about $2 trillion. In America, ours might be $90 trillion. One of the big problems with American politicians, right and left, is that they have a hard time "selling" anything that makes economic or social sense. Obama's latest statements about invading an ally, Pakistan, one armed with nuclear weapons, shows what a bunch of mental midgets they have running for President.

Larry Perrault said...


You're right about attention spand and short statements. That's why I could probably never be a candidate. I've worked on distilling my posts in the past few years. But, my convictions are so distinct from the crowd on both sides, and explaing them is so essential to understanding how I got there, that there's no way I could simplify most of them.

For example, to understand my position on abortion & defining marriage, it is impossible to boil them down to a sentence.

I actually declared and tried to get on the ballot as an Independent against Sheila Jackson-Lee in 2004 (there aren't enough disabled people in Congress! :-). But, I was not allowed to collect petition signatures, anywhere: not commercial places and NOT EVEN CHURCHES!, though I would have been the only pro-life candidate on the ballot.